Tuesday, 7 August 2007

FreeMind - Product Review

I had the Freemind application recommended to me by a friend as an effective brainstorming tool. He was spot on - it is a tremendous tool. I've been using it in my workplace over the last couple of weeks and have found it a valuable asset not only for creating a broad perspective on a problem I am solving, but a great tool for communicating to others and having them contribute to my thought process.

is "FREE" software. I can confirm this through the licensing panel when using the software. Of course this means credit should be given to Joerg Mueller and the rest of the open source project team that worked on this product. It really is quite a sweet little application.

So What makes it so sweet? The simplicity and ease of use and in particular the way you can actually use your keyboard to do most things such as expanding and collapsing branches, creating new Nodes or simply navigating around your mind map.

Freemind does not try to be anything else but a straightforward mind-mapping tool. Once you have made a mind map you can then export it into a few mediums e.g. HTML page, JPEG, XHTML or open office writer document. Note I've not had a pressing need to do this at all and have only tinkered to see how it would look. The HTML/XHTML appears to be the most effective approach at the moment.

Another point that has been quite appealing for myself personally is that the freemind application is available in two versions. One for both Windows XP and Mac OS X. This has allowed me use both my work laptop (xp) and home system (Mac OS X) to mature the mind-maps I have been working on.

From a collaborative perspective I have used the application at my desk with peers and also in open meetings with the map projected onto a screen for the whole room to contribute. Talking your way through a mind map also provides a great medium for explaining a broad range of perspectives to your audience, and as it is quite interactive in the participation levels are quite good.

Overall - a very handy application and one that I have already started handing onto peers.



Note - clicking on the freemind links above takes you to http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

Late Addition: Here is a screen capture of Freemind on the Mac.

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